South Africa

Fears of a spike in attacks at Emmarentia Botanical Gardens this festive season

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Crime at Emmarentia Botanical Gardens has increase over the last few months while authorities expect it will spike again this festive season.

As the weather warms and the festive cheer takes hold, the last thing those going on a leisurely walk around Emmarentia Botanical Gardens in Johannesburg expect is to be attacked.

However, community leaders and private security companies have warned of a possible spike in muggings and assaults as the year winds down.

According to SCP Security CEO, Clive Maher, three men have been terrorising visitors to the park over the last few months. He said most of the muggings and attacks happen between Judith and Beyers Naude inside the park.

Parkview Community Policing Forum chairperson Geraldine Connell told The Citizen there had been a spike in attacks at the gardens, with fears it could get worse as the Christmas holidays approach.

“The main advice is to stay out of the park in the early parts of the morning and late afternoons. Don’t walk alone, walk in groups. Though recently even groups have been attacked.,” she said.

READ ALSO: Teen assaulted at Emmarentia Botanical Gardens

Suspect shot

In the latest incident, a man who was walking his dogs last Thursday evening was approached by three men, one armed with a firearm.

“They pointed a firearm at him. The complainant reacted by drawing his own firearm and fired six shots in the direction of the suspects. One of the suspects was wounded, while the other two fled the scene.
The 31-year-old suspect was taken to hospital under police guard,” said police spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi.

DA Ward Councillor for Ward 88 in the City of Joburg, Nicolene Jonker, said: “Sadly, criminals prey on visitors to the botanical gardens, as it is one of the best-kept gardens in our city. I am very grateful for the swift action [by] our security sector.”

READ ALSO: Couple robbed in Johannesburg Botanical Garden

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) spokesperson, Jenny Moodley, appealed to visitors to public spaces to be extra vigilant.

She said City Parks had deployed private security and park rangers to randomly patrol its flagship facilities, however, due to the sprawling nature of large parks such as the Botanical Gardens, it was not viable to ensure that security personnel are always visible.

“Please stay safe, by staying alert and informed of safety concerns in your neighbourhood. Visit parks in a group; stay on designated paths and avoid shortcuts through secluded areas and dense foliage; trust your instincts and leave an isolated area if you are feeling uncomfortable.

“Carry only the basics, adhere to park rules, ensure that your pets are on a leash at your side, and please report any suspicious activity to the guards on duty,” she said.